The Epi app on the iPad / iPhone is simply fabulous. It's a bank of great (& reliable) recipes categorized so well. The reviews on each recipe are helpful too. And Denise, my 'American Mom' and 'cooking Guru' puts it out there so honestly– life is way to short to not keep trying new recipes and life is also way too short to try recipes that we aren't sure are good or not? Try a recipe from a reliable source such as Epicurious, Bon Appétit, a chef or a recipe from a friend you know knows what he or she is talking about!
I grew up baking with my mother and remember those afternoons fondly. And here are some of the cardinal baking rules that I learnt from her. Thank you Ma!
Both Denise and my mother love their afternoon cup of tea, as do I. So this blog entry is dedicated to them.
Denise & Mom: As I write this entry, I am sipping on a perfectly brewed cup of tea, looking out at the rain and enjoying my slice of cake. Miss you both now!
Mom's Dozen Baking Rules
- Measure. Measure. Measure. Do not ever dare not measure! Baking is a science and the amounts are crucial to getting the right results. Keep everything ready and then start mixing the batter.
- Sift the flour. It needs the air and who wants a bite of a clump of flour in your cake?
- Do not substitute, unless you truly know what you're doing– for e.g., baking soda and baking powder are not the same thing. Baking soda is an ingredient in baking powder.
- All ingredients must be at room temperature, unless otherwise stated in your recipe. Take the eggs out of the fridge 20–30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat your oven well in advance. The batter needs the right temperature at the start of the baking process to rise. And after all, it's all about the rise isn't it?
- Follow your recipe step-by-step. The order of ingredients makes a huge difference.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches (or unless otherwise instructed) or it will make the batter 'heavy'.
- Use exactly the technique you are told to use in the recipe– whisk, fold, knead, sieve etc.
- Always mix or fold in the same direction you started in.
- Never ever ever over mix. Just stop when you're done. Simple. Or you'll beat every bit of air in your dough out!
- Don't open the oven door while your cake is baking. The air pressure will flatten your cake, and then there goes the rise!
- And last, but not the least, never over bake. The center of the cake bakes last, so when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, you're good to go. Remove it from the oven asap, there will still be some left over baking happening with the heat.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt (blueberry flavor)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (if you don't own lemon extract, you can use vanilla extract)
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Butter and flour a standard loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/4-inches).
- Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl.
- In another large bowl, using your fingers, rub 1 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest until sugar is moist.
- Add 3/4 cup blueberry Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract; whisk to blend.
- Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.
- Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
- Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–55 minutes.
- Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
- Invert onto rack; let cool completely.
Cooks note: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.